Aston Martin may receive a big blow in one of its most important markets, the United States, if federal regulators don’t exempt the brand from safety rules.
U.S. Aston Martin dealers say they are in danger of closing, as they can’t sell DB9 and Vantage models produced after August 31 due to the new federal side-impact safety standards.
In March, Aston Martin asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for an exemption of up to three years to the new standards. The British company says that without an exemption it would suffer “substantial economic hardship.”
Aston Martin argued that economic problems caused by the recent recession prevented it from redesigning the DB9 and Vantage so they would meet new side air bag standards introduced by the NHTSA since 2010. A spokeswoman for the agency said NHTSA has not yet made a decision on the Aston Martin exemption.
“The agency has been in contact with Aston Martin regarding their exemption request and is awaiting additional information from their dealers,” the spokeswoman was quoted as saying on Reuters.
According to an Aston Martin dealer who talked to an NHTSA official, a ruling could be issued sometime this year. NHTSA can exempt some automakers that sell fewer than 5,000 vehicles a year in the U.S. Aston Martin sold 4,200 worldwide last year.
Aston Martin requested exemptions for the DB9 model until September 2016, and for the Vantage until September 2017. The two models are the most affordable in Aston Martin’s lineup and make up the bulk of the company’s U.S. sales.